Short Timeline on Spending Bills

February 2, 2022

The government is currently funded under a continuing resolution through Feb. 18. Top appropriators are working to overcome obstacles to reaching consensus on topline spending levels but are running out of time to complete work on the 12 Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 spending bills before the February deadline.

Congressional negotiators are in danger of missing the Feb. 18 deadline for passing an omnibus package of the annual appropriations for fiscal 2022.

A shutdown is unlikely, but members of the Senate Appropriations Committee from both parties warn that if negotiators blow through the mid-February deadline, it increases the likelihood that President Biden will have to settle for a yearlong stopgap funding measure to keep the government open.

That would prevent him from putting his own stamp on department and agency budgets while Democrats control Congress. As a result, Senate Democrats right now are prioritizing passage of the omnibus spending bill ahead of the Build Back Better (BBB) Act, which the House passed in November but then stalled last month because of opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).  

The prospect of getting the omnibus passed in the next three weeks is slipping. Some of the disagreements between Democrats and Republicans over how much to increase funding for domestic nondefense social programs compared to the military is a major sticking point. There are also disagreements over policy riders, in particular the so-called Hyde amendment, which was first passed in 1976 and bans federal funding for abortion. 

Biden’s budget for fiscal 2022 requested a 16 percent funding increase for domestic nondefense programs and a 1.7 percent increase for the military.  House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) has stuck closely to the president’s numbers, while Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and Ranking Member Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), have agreed to reduce the increase in domestic programs to 13 percent and boost the military funding increase to 5 percent.  

Others see a potential funding deal as a natural legislative vehicle to advance perhaps billions of dollars in additional coronavirus-related aid, though Republican lawmakers aren’t entirely sold on the idea. The early talks about pandemic relief have explored ways to boost testing, expand the availability of vaccines, invest in therapeutics, and shore up any small businesses that still need financial help. Some Democrats also hope to provide fresh relief to families, including those who have missed work — and paychecks — because of the fast-spreading omicron variant.